Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The longest relay protest in the world: Mullaperiyar Samara Samiti

(contd from previous post)

The Mullaperiyar Samara Samiti was formed in the year 2006 at a meeting held in Karol Plaza, Upputhara on 03 March 2006. At that time, there was another organization fighting for the rights of people living downstream the Periyar called the Periyar Valley Protection Movement headed by late A.T. Thomas. The Samara Samiti was mainly formed following the 2006 verdict by the Supreme Court of India granting TN rights to raise the water level in Mullaperiyar dam to 142 feet. 

Public resentment over the S C verdict in response to two petitions filed by the Mullaperiyar Environment Protection Forum and Subramanya Swamy allowing TN to raise the water level to 142 feet that was delivered on 27 February 2006 became the inspiring force behind this relay strike that has reached historic 
proportions and has been continuing for over 6 years now. 

Just a few days after the verdict, members of the Periyar Valley Protection Movement, the organization that was spearheading the campaign for decommissioning the Mullaperiyar dam, head by A. T. Thomas convened a meeting at Karol Plaza in Upputhara on 03 March 2006. ‘Mullaperiyar Samara Samiti was formed on that day to carry forward our fight for a new dam and I was appointed as chairman of this committee,’ Fr. Joy said.

The protests were organized in three phases. ‘The first phase was one of aggression. It was the need of the hour at the time. Our fight for the safety of the people living here was going out of our hands and we wanted to bring it to the notice of the state government. From 03 March, he held protest marches, formed human chains on road, blocked roads, blocked national highways, sent hundreds of letters to the prime minster and so many other things,’ Fr. Joy said.